Saturday, August 30, 2008

It Got Me Thinking ...

My friend Will's question about "Nebraska" got me thinking about Bruce, which led me to this: Josh Ritter performing "The River." I like it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Oh, David

Maybe he's still reeling from that second "X-Files" movie flopping so badly, but it seems David Duchovny has entered a treatment center for sex addiction.

Um, OK. I'm not a doctor, and I know people can get addicted to just about anything -- I myself am addicted to coffee and, I don't know, jelly beans or something -- but sex addiction always seems a bit odd to me. How is it possible, exactly? How do you diagnose something like this?

Or better question: How has Tea Leoni survived the last 11 years? Is this David's excuse for sleeping around the last few years?

Well, I don't know. And, you know, I don't care. I just thought this was an interesting little note to talk about since I've been told by someone who's in the know that Duchovny is, um, let's just say it starts with an ass and ends with a, you know.

And seriously, who at Fox green lit that damn "X-Files" sequel? They should be canned. Wasn't it common sense that the flick was going to fail miserably?

That's it. Hope your Friday is going well. Mine has been very productive.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Very Cool Idea By Okkervil

To celebrate the release of its upcoming and amazing record, "The Stand Ins," Okkervil River invited some of its favorite artists to cover each of the tunes on the disc. The performances were captured on video and have been uploaded to YouTube over the past several days. I was going to wait till all the songs were posted, but I just can't. This stuff is too good. So here are all the videos, including an intro from Okkervil's Will Sheff. As more tunes get posted, I'll put them here in order. Anyway, have fun with these. They rule.

Will's intro:


"Lost Coastlines" by Will and The New Pornographers' Carl Newman:


"Singer Songwriter" by David Vandervelde:


"Starry Stairs" by Jack Ladder:


"Blue Tulip" by Bon Iver:


"Pop Lie" by Bird of Youth (never heard of this band and can't find a link, sorry)

Friday Video!

Here you go, in all its glorious glory:

Jenny's Coming

Jenny Lewis will play the Shubert Theater Oct. 5. Tickets go on sale next Friday; more info in tomorrow's Weekend section.

Here's a video to make you excited:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Lovely Reminder

As I sit here deep in the bowels of the Connecticut Tennis Center finishing up my last Pilot Pen column of the year, I just wanted to post another quick reminder about the show I helped put together at Cafe Nine Sunday.

Yep, you want to go there and see The Lovely Sparrows, Haunted Continents and Calvin DeCutlass. It's seriously going to be a great gig, one you do not want to miss. Here's my story on the show, and here's the Courant's Eric Danton's piece on the Sparrows. And if you want to listen to some Lovely music, go here.

And that's it. You should go. I'll see you there and we can drink beer. Beer is good.

Monday, August 18, 2008

FYI

Our wonderful online staff has made a killer Pilot Pen page. Check it out here. You can read my first column of the year here.

Really?

A very nice lady just asked me for my autograph here at the Pilot Pen. Um? I tried to decline, but she wouldn't relent. So, yeah, I just signed an autograph. Odd. Anyway, going to write a column now so I can get to my softball game. Later.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Um, OK?

So, be on the lookout for my first Pilot Pen column in tomorrow's Register, but, until then, I wanted to post this unintentionally hilarious article from TV Guide.

Don't expect Steve Sanders to drop by West Beverly High or the Peach Pit any time soon. While Jennie Garth, Shannen Doherty " and for a while Tori Spelling " were more than happy to reprise their Beverly Hills 90210 roles on the upcoming spin-off, Ian Ziering is hesitant to return to his famous zip code.

"It's not really where my career goals are focused right now," Ziering told People. "I'm really looking down the line pretty far and this might be a step backwards." He continued, "You know, Steve Sanders lives on in our hearts and in our minds."

But don't think the 44-year-old is wishing any ill will towards the show and his former co-stars' way. In fact, it's quite the opposite. "I think that it's fantastic they're trying to recapture some of the excitement that 90210 brought to a decade," he said. "I wish them all the best of luck."

Ziering isn't the only former- 90210 resident who's reluctant to appear on the CW spin-off. Luke Perry has also ruled out making an appearance, and up until Monday, Spelling was slated to bring back Donna Martin until an alleged salary dispute put a damper on those plans.
OK, so besides Ian Ziering who don't recall being in anything since "90210" ended its run saying it might be a step backwards, there's one real money quote from this article: "You know, Steve Sanders lives on in our hearts and in our minds."
Man, if I was the reporter getting that quote, I would have pumped my first right after he said it. Too perfect.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Interesting ...

So here we are. There will never be another "Mike and the Mad Dog" show on WFAN. Chris "Mad Dog" Russo is leaving the station, as many of you folks might have learned last night.

Today's broadcast just began, and Mike Francesca opened the show by playing a taped Russo doing his trademark "Hello everybody." That was nice of him, since, of course, we know the duo didn't get along very well. One interesting thing is that WFAN has already removed all evidence of Russo from its Web site. His photo is still up in the studio, but I guarantee you it'll be gone the next time Francesca is in the studio.

Anyway, I obviously moved here in the last five years, so I never really heard the show before then, growing up listing to WEEI, a station clearly influenced by WFAN. For the most part, I firmly believe the hosts on WEEI are way more knowledgeable than the ones on the FAN, mostly because EEI uses newspaper writers and columnists, people that are in the locker rooms constantly.

I'll miss "Mike and the Mad Dog" though. I think Francesca has way too much ego and doesn't really know what he's talking about. Heck, he still refuses to acknowledge that Joba Chamberlain should be a starter. And, of course, Russo is a nitwit, an entertaining one, but still a big nitwit.

But the two put on an interesting show, and an enjoyable one. And even though they cut off a lot of folks, they did it far less than the hosts on "The Big Show," for example. It's not going to be the same with Francesca just rambling on about how the Yanks should bring back Bernie Williams or whatever.

Francesca just did a really nice thing by letting Russo on the air, which is something the station did not want. Good for them.

So I guess that's it. I do, however, want to comment on Joe Amarante's new profile photo, the one that's above. It hurts my feelings. It's a low blow from Joe. But I guess that comes with the territory when your Yanks stink, your Knicks are hopeless and your Defending Champion Giants are about to start a season where they come in third in their own division. Poor Joe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Um, I'm Laughing

OK, so I haven't been posting much because, you know, I'm on vacation and all. That's really not that great of an excuse though. I've had plenty of time, but I don't feel like I've got much to say. That was the case until I took my almost-daily check of Joe Amarante's blog and saw his new profile photo.

I've posted it here because it makes me happy. Look at how he's sporting a sleeveless shirt. It must be Joe's way of protesting the way the Yanks have been playing lately.

I don't have much else to say. I went home for the weekend, home to the great state of Massachusetts. On Friday, I saw some local Mass. band's (Amagazo) CD-release party in Allston, which was pretty good ... and loud. These guys were basically a heavy metal band, so that was different for me. Headlining the night was a Black Sabbath cover band called Lack Sabbath; they made me laugh.

I did go to the press screening of "Pineapple Express" a couple weeks ago or something. I thought it was very good, mindless fun. It went a little long, but, overall, I enjoyed it. I haven't seen any other movies during vacation, which is kind of sad. Maybe that'll change later in the week. I do want to see "The Wackness" and "Tropic Thunder."

So I guess that's it. Let's all just enjoy the weather and this picture of Joe, which shows that he's absolutely enjoying the weather.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Thursday Tidbits

Let's answer some questions I've gotten in the past few days:
  1. No, there was not a video last week. I'm not sure why. It just didn't happen. That kind of stinks, yes.
  2. Jimmy Buffett was, as always, great on Sunday. You may not like his music -- personally, I think it's merely OK -- but the man has put on a couple of the best shows I've ever seen. There's something to be said for getting an audience so psyched up.
  3. Loudon Wainright put on a varied and great show a couple weeks ago. Here's a video for one of the night's highlights.



That's it for today. I'll be back with more tomorrow. Hopefully, it'll be more entertaining and I won't be half-asleep.

The Vacation Continues

Say what you will about bands like Live, Collective Soul and Blues Traveler, but they all know how to put on a very good show. Yep, for a variety of reasons, I went to the trio of early '90s acts' show at the Chevrolet Theatre last night.

After seeing some very good artists perform in a very craptastic way at the Newport Folk Festival last weekend, it's nice to see a few bands that understand how to engage the audience while performing live.

Back in 1994, when "Throwing Copper" was burning up the charts, Live got tons of shout-outs as the next U2. It was a band of guys who met in middle school and were experiencing a ton of popularity while they were still very good. It's good to see that the same four still make up the band, and the group's live set last night was heavy on the greatest hits. Over the course of the last 15 years or so, I bet I've seen Live six or seven times, and this was the best show.

I once caught them on the "Throwing Copper" tour, before even "I Alone" came out, and that was a great show. But the guys were a bit sloppy that night, and this show was not that way at all. Highlights included "Waitress," "Selling the Drama," "Operation Spirit" and "The Dolphin's Cry."

I've never been a big fan of Collective Soul, but the band put on a workmanlike set that was full of more hits than I knew existed. The evening began with Blues Traveler, which played its jam-happy tunes for about 45 minutes.

And that's about it about this show. I enjoyed it, which is not something I expected. But, yeah, the key to this gig is that it featured three bands who knew how to put on a show, who knew how to engage the crowd. Acts like Cat Power should really go to one of this concerts and take note.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Newport Folk Festival 7 — Volt Of Fun

I'd be lying if I didn't write again that I was looking forward to Son Volt's set more than any other during this entire festival. I wasn't disappointed. I can't say the alt-country group was better than Over the Rhine, but it was pretty damn good.

Mostly focusing on tunes from the last two albums, Son Volt sped through a 40-minute set that featured way more of the act's harder songs than the acoustic numbers. My ears hurt. I was in the front row, though.

This was the first time I'd seen the band since before its hiatus. I saw it three times before 1999. Even though I like the three records that came before the 21st century best, this was the best I'd seen the group.

Jay Farrar wasn't very talkative; he never is even close to that. But he did talk a bit, which is way more than the first time I saw Son Volt, when he said not one word. Anyway, the crowd got a treat when the band pronounced itself done, but then got word it could play one more. Well, the guys broke into "Drown," its most "known" tune. It really did sound great. The set's highlight, though, was "Straightaways."

I then ran over and caught the last four or five songs from Levon Helm ... this included an all-star finale of "The Weight," which featured a ton of musicians like Gillian Welch. Helm had like 6,432 folks on stage with him during his set. Good stuff.

And that's it on this end. I'm going to enjoy a beer made by Jimmy Buffett while I pass the 20 minutes until the man himself takes the stage. I'm pretty excited. Jimmy Buffett playing in front of the ocean ... pretty cool. At least I think so. We'll catch up after the end of the festival, after I get myself back to New Haven. Until then, enjoy the weather on this perfect Sunday.

Newport Folk Festival 6 — Oh, Kaki

What a difference three years makes. Back in 2005, when I was covering this very same festival for this very same newspaper, I caught Kaki King on the Harbor Stage on Saturday afternoon. Well, it's Sunday afternoon this time, but I just finished watching Ms. King perform.

Last time — and I've saw her about a half-dozen times from about 2003-2006 — it was just her and her guitar. She didn't sing, just played classically influenced solo guitar, the kind of stuff John Fahey is known to do on occasion ... or always. This time, she was flanked by three other musicians and a sound guy/vocalist/tape-player. A full band. And it was so different. She sang. Yep. Sang.

It's a totally different thing for her. Oh sure, she still played her instrumental solo guitar pieces, but this time they were augmented by a full band playing wacky keyboard parts and slide-guitar riffs over. Just a big difference. It made the songs more full, less monotonous. And that was always the problem with Kaki King before: Yes, she's an amazing player and her tunes are adventurous, but after a while of seeing one person with her guitar without vocals, it all starts to sound the same. With a band, that's not the case.

I would definitely recommend checking her out nowadays. She can even sing very well, something you might not think since she avoided doing it for years. Oh, and yeah, the band closed with a cover of a classic German metal song. It made my day. I love German metal, seriously. Really good and made the set that much better.

That's it for now. Have to get back for Son Volt. Later.

Newport Folk Festival 5 — Over And Over

There's something to be said for a professional band. Over the Rhine is a band from Ohio, a good, workman-like Americana act that's been around for almost two decades. I've heard a couple of its records, but never actually saw the band live.

Well, I'm glad the first song didn't turn me off enough to leave. The band opened OK, but, I thought, I could run over and see half of Richard Julian and half of Calexico. But since we were in the front row, I didn't want to be so rude and leave during the first song. Good call.

Over the Rhine is the best act I've seen here so far. Better than She & Him, better than Jakob Dylan ... the two other acts in contention. The band was simply great. And this is another opportunity to stress how important a good rhythm section is to a band. The drummer was amazing, doing some interesting fills and tempos while still keeping it tasteful. And I wish The Honors' bassist could have watched closely his counterpart in Over the Rhine because this guy perfectly balanced playing interesting notes and patterns while still staying in the background. Man, they were both great. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better rhythm section.

And we haven't even talked about the pianist/singer, lead singer and super lead guitar player. All together it made for a great set, one that made someone I'm with buy a CD and a T-shirt. That doesn't happen often. I'm happy I didn't want to be rude.

Newport Folk Festival 4 — Boston and Black Crowes

Sorry for not wrapping up last night. The rain kept coming, which made me miss Jim James, besides the last song, and that was kind of sad. After, I caught Cat Power. She was underwhelming. Very good at times, very bad at others. My friend Jay summed it up as very insincere, and I can't come up with anything better. Everything was so practiced and planned.

After Cat Power ended, I headed over to the Black Crowes; that band was just as bad, but at least Cat Power has good songs to work with. The Black Crowes' songs just aren't that good, and the band does not have musicians good enough to play 12-minute songs, to jam and solo so much. Nope. Not at all. Boring, boring, boring.

And on to this afternoon. I just finished watching The Honors from Boston, which is playing here because it won some contest on Our Stage. Now, yesterday's Our Stage band, American Babies, were really good. The Honors? Not so much. I'm constantly underwhelmed by bands from my hometown. Almost invariably, they're mediocre at best. These guys sounded like Dishwalla trying to sound like Interpol, and, at times, it worked. But, mostly, it didn't. And, god, don't get me started on the bass player. All he did was preen.

The entire band was decked out in jeans and black shirts, all cut or unbuttoned enough to see chest hair. The lead guitarist and drummer worked well, and the singer/guitarist had his moments, but the bassist was way too busy, and even if he played with any kind of subtlety it wouldn't have worked since he made the same faces and poses as Kip Winger in that "Seventeen" video. Seriously. That's all he did. That's it. Lots of poses. Poses. Lots of them. It drove me mad.

The person sitting next to me said she was just watching the right side of the stage and everything was OK. I tried that, and, yeah, it got better, plus the end of the set featured better songs, but it didn't totally work. Nope.

Here's hoping it gets better from here on out. I'm looking forward to Son Volt more than any act of this entire festival, so I'm getting excited. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Newport Folk Festival 3 — Rain, Rain, Rain

So, let's see. The story here is all about the rain. Steve Earle's set was pretty good, that is until he got a DJ up on stage with him and the beats happened. Steve Earle and beats ... not a good job.

After enjoying half of that set, I went to scout out some clam balls, but because of the rain, they're not cooking them. I was forced to settle for pad thai, fried rice and chicken on a stick. Good stuff.

At that point, it was raining, but barely. My shirt was wet, but I wasn't a competitor in a wet T-shirt contest or anything. So then I started to catch She & Him. Then the rain came. Oh, boy, did it come. Anyone who wants to can see my nipples. Yep, that's the truth.

So now I'm back in the Press Pavilion, enjoying an adult beverage and watching a very good band, American Babies, perform on television. Well, the band is actually playing on the main stage and the audience seems to really be enjoying it, but I'm not that brave. And nobody wants to see my nipples.

Here's hoping the weather report looks accurate. The rain should stop in like 30 minutes or so. I still have Jim James and Cat Power to see. Very excited. More adult beverages for me. Later.

Newport Folk Festival 2 — Dylan Goes Acoustic

Jakob Dylan went on about 20 minutes ago; so far, so good. I'm back in the Press Pavilion, and M Ward and Zooey Deschanel are back here, drinking water and getting ready for their set in a couple hours.

One interesting note so far: When I interviewed one of the main producers of the festival a week or so back, he noted how one of the goals was to make every stage a spectacle this year, make every stage a destination or featured stage, not just the main one. But something I'm noticing is that I will not go to the main stage once today, which is weird. On the Harbor Stage, I saw Young@Heart, now is Dylan, then Steve Earle, then She & Him, then Jim James and, lastly, Cat Power.

I mean, I'd like to see Trey Anastasio acoustic, but not while missing She & Him or Earle. I might be interested in glimpsing The Black Crowes, but not at the expense of Cat Power. Not happening. So, I'm going to be at a side stage all day. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll check out the main stage. I will be near it later though to get clam balls. Mmm. Clam balls.

That's it for now. Going to enjoy my first adult beverage of the day here in the shaded pavilion. Later.

Newport Folk Festival 1

Well, hello. How's it going? I'm sitting in the Press Pavilion here at the Newport Folk Festival. One act down, many to go. I just saw the Young@Heart Chorus — you know, the ones from the movie — and it was pretty good. They closed with "Forever Young," the Dylan tune, which was appropriate since, you know, Jakob is coming up next. So with that, I'm going to get some water because I feel thirsty. It's hot out. You need to keep hydrated when it's hot out. At least that's what my Mom tells me. More later.